World War Z Reviewed

Several years ago, I was told to read World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks because I was a huge fan of zombies. Also, because the book has apparently good writing. The book did me justice, and I soon found out that a movie was in the works and I was thrilled. So, the movie is out, the reviews are in, and a lot of people disagree.

Poster for the World War Z filmThe first thing to know about the movie is that it is definitely not the book, though probably most people would agree that this is true of any book-to-movie production. But I mean it particularly here, as the book took the whole war from a different angle. Max Brooks set up the whole book with an unseen narrator going around after the war had ended, speaking with people who experienced it in different ways to show what the world went through. He used this as a platform to approach the entire concept of zombies scientifically, how they could actually work in the real world, and what would happen if we fought them based on this science. The oral histories themselves were beautifully crafted, every voice as different and memorable as the one before. It was fascinating.

This also makes for a hard movie to make, because there is no strong narrator whose story we are trying to follow. At least, if we are looking at making the movie in a typical manner and that is what Marc Forster ended up choosing to do, and honestly, I am okay with that. Because I think the interpretation he and Brad Pitt ended up coming up with is still pretty great, even if we lose the book’s intriguing way of looking at the war. Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, an ex-UN employee who apparently has some crazy Liam Neeson-from-Taken-like skills, is sent to help figure out how the apocalypse started and how to stop it. Debate comes in on whether or not it’s a good story. I vote yes. Gerry Lane is smart, cares for his family, and courageous. He also does not hide when he’s terrified or has no idea what to do next, and that makes you as terrified as he is.

There are not a lot of guts and gore in this movie, because admittedly, it’s not so much a movie about zombies but a movie about disease, like Contagion. Also, there is little up-close hand-to-hand combat; instead wider shots show the sheer mass of them, with some major CGI to do this. Those scenes can either suck you in further or totally disengage you from the movie, because I’ll admit, they can be hard to believe. But the story does its part of making you want to believe the effects.

I read one review (unfortunately, I cannot recall which since I read many) that suggested approaching the movie with having the stories told in the book told by actors in front of a black background, retelling each story and of course, showing how those stories went, would have done the book more justice, and I think this is true. But I also think that the movie would not have reaped as much money at the box office, though I could be incorrectly dismissing my peers. I do know that World War Z has managed to earn a sequel. And I think that just maybe, they could do it that way the second time, because now they have piqued the interest of those who watched. And just maybe, the book lovers of this set will get the movie that could have been.

6 replies on “World War Z Reviewed”

WWZ is one of my top ten favorite books, so I was really not happy about everything that had been coming out about the movie. That said, I went to see the movie, and it was actually pretty good as an addition to the zombie genre. I just wish they had called it something different, because to have a movie called World War Z with no Battle of Yonkers is just ridiculous. Watching the movie as though it were “Brad Pitt and the CGI Zombie Horde,” I liked the movie just fine. As “World War Z,” I was disappointed.

You’re right, as the book, it really isn’t that great of an adaptation. I truly was delighted by the movie, but separating out my feelings for it, not really happy for the book’s adaptation. A friend of mine wrote a review on it as well, not having read the book, and she mentions at one point how she was normally pretty good about telling about gaps from book to movie. Like, oh that character probably had a lot more attention in the book, so on, but I read that and was like no no, you’re off and you have no clue. Which means to me that it failed as a taking the book to the screen.

Battle of Yonkers was freaking amazing, but my favorite was the whole Paul Redeker deal. Can you imagine him onscreen? Maybe part of the issue was that they wanted this to be a blockbuster and really, it should have been a more artistic series or something. A tv series or something. Something that would allow for time and focusing on detail. Each account could have been an episode. Sigh.

I did the whole thing backwards- I saw the movie on Saturday and raced through the book on Sunday/Monday. In my mind they served two totally different purposes- the movie was a story about fighting zombies, and the book is a unique look at human nature, with zombies as the catalyst.

After seeing the movie first, I was blown away by the book and how political it is (in the best way). They’re already talking about making a sequel to the movie, so I am hoping that the second movie follows the book now that they’ve got a built-in “hook” from the first movie.

That’s such an excellent way to put it. I loved the book’s political points, and the book and movie really are about two different things. Yes too, that is exactly what I’m hoping for to happen. If they do it well (which I think they can manage) it’ll draw in both movie fans and book fans and they’ll have a really excellent movie on their hands.

You could probably definitely handle the movie after the opening – just keep your eyes closed and someone to clutch beside you and you’ll be fine. As for the book, I mean, they do still “lose” but I was a bit freaked out by certain aspects of the book, which is far more detailed and thus amazing in that sense than the movie. But please, give it a shot!

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